Summer is ending, the Olympics are nearly over, and cinemas are emptying before the autumn blockbuster rush. Free from major competition, it’s often the best time to catch films as small gems venture out onto the big screen. There are certainly a few this week alongside a (sort of) beloved comedy character.
Life since The Office hasn’t always been straightforward for Ricky Gervais. He created another excellent series in Extras and has certainly done well in a number of areas but returns have become increasingly diminishing. After the terrible Special Correspondents on Netflix earlier this year, he’s back with his most famous creation in David Brent: Life on the Road. The intervening years have seen no real improvement for Brent. He works in sales and spends his spare time trying to spark a music career with predictably dire results. Returning to Brent was always going to be a gamble. Reviews suggest it hasn’t entirely paid off.
Romeo and Juliet has undergone numerous adaptations. The latest is Black, taking the star-crossed lovers to the streets of contemporary Brussels where teenagers from separate immigrant communities fall in love much to the disapproval of pretty much everyone. It’s a fast, slick and often brutal film, mixing probing comments on integration into the doomed romance. There’s a breezy feel to sections, but it will turn dark. Black is well worth watching provided you don’t mind your romances doomed.
Debuts are often tentative affairs, a testing ground for those new to the game. Not so The Childhood of a Leader, a dazzling examination of the youth of a future fascist dictator. Brady Corbet creates a mesmerizing experience, accentuated by a brilliantly off-kilter score in a film that has led to impressive reviews. Where others play it safe, Corbet launches off in an entirely unexpected direction. Don’t let it pass you by.
We stay with independent cinema for the release on DVD of Norwegian director Joachim Trier’s English language debut. Louder Than Bombs focusses on the rifts in a family that break into the open when Isabelle Huppert’s war photographer dies. Her husband and kids are left to battle with long concealed problems in an intriguing drama that never quite delivers on its potential. Jesse Eisenberg and Gabriel Byrne also appear. For all its strengths, Trier only occasionally scales the brilliant heights of previous work, notably Oslo, August 31st.
That’s all we have time for now. I’ll see you next week for parental misbehaviour.